When it comes to food, India and China have more in common than you might think. Both harbour a deep love of ear-tingling chilies, vast quantities of garlic and seafood.
That’s probably why Chinese food has found its way into the hearts of Indians. All across India, from Goa to Pondicherry, you’ll find entire sections of Indian restaurant menus dedicated to Chinese dishes, many of which have achieved cult status, including “manchow soup,” ‘’hakka noodles” and “Manchurian chicken.”
But these dishes also have been endlessly adapted so they now are distorted versions of the originals and more Indian than Chinese. Still, they are loved fiercely and cooked regularly in Indian kitchens. Among the most special of dishes and perfect for celebrating the Chinese New Year is this signature Indo-Chinese dish, chili jumbo shrimp, which is made using bird’s eye chilies, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.
The shrimp are juicy, bright and enlivening, the heat of the chilies working perfectly against the natural sweetness of the seafood. I love to serve these after a soup or dumpling course alongside eggs noodles or rice fried quickly in a little sesame oil and a side of salted and steamed greens, such as broccoli or bok choy.
Whatever you choose to serve them with, they will sit harmoniously alongside other Chinese dishes. Best of all, they can be cooked in a matter of minutes, leaving you more time to celebrate with family and friends.
CHILI JUMBO SHRIMP
Not a fan of heat? Start with one chili, tasting and adding as you like.
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 to 3 red bird’s eye, serrano or habanero chilies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons dark or regular soy sauce
1 1/2-inch chunk fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
8 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds raw jumbo shrimp, shells removed
In a mortar and pestle or with a spice grinder, roughly grind the cumin seeds to a coarse powder.
In a large skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the cumin, garlic, chilies, pepper, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the tomato puree, soy sauce and all but a small amount of the ginger and scallions. Cook for another 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the shrimp. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn from grey to pink. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining ginger and scallions.
Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories; 80 calories from fat (35 per cent of total calories); 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 215 mg cholesterol; 1760 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 26 g protein.